#ALTA2015 Call for Conference Papers

alta2015A reminder that 1 May 2015 is the deadline for submission of abstracts for the Australasian Law Teachers Association annual conference.

You can find a conference flyer and abstract submission form here. The conference theme is “Access to Justice and Legal Education”.

La Trobe University Law School will host the conference at the City Campus, Melbourne from Thursday 16 July to Saturday 18 July 2015.

 

Share

Re-Imagining Practical Legal Training Practitioners

jalta2014The Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association has published my article today: ‘Re-Imagining Practical Legal Training Practitioners – Soldiers for ‘Vocationalism’, or Double Agents?’ (2014) 7(1/2) Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association 101.

You can click on the picture above to download the article.

Share

#APLEC2014 – Impressions from Day One

This post is a week late because I have been immersed in working with my supervisor comments and review of my thesis chapters, but here goes…

APLEC2014_Sung_Welcome
IPLS Faculty Sing a Maori Welcome at #APLEC2014

The Australasian Professional Legal Education Council annual conference was held in Auckland, New Zealand during 14-15 November 2014. Congratulations to the host, the Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS), for a well-organised and well-resourced conference – my experience as a presenter and attendee was enjoyable, and support staff inspired confidence when setting up for the presentation. The Conference Theme was ‘Creating Communities of Learning’.

Day One commenced with a beautifully-sung  welcome in Maori by members of IPLS (a motif that continued at the conference dinner, with several participants standing to sing in different genres).

Associate Professor Shirley Reushle from the Digital Futures Institute at the University of Southern Queensland spoke to the theme of ‘Learning Community: If I Build It, Will They Come?’

Shirley said we’re all struggling with the same issues – looking for answers – what needs to be done to provide successful learning experiences for students? She outlined the concept of learning community, and spoke to concepts of ‘leadership in creating and maintaining a learning community’ and ‘methods for conducting a learning community’.

Shirley observed  the concept of ‘community’ is highly valued by society, that students want hands-on, interactive, social learning activities – dislike passive learning – and a community of learning needs effective leadership to keep community alive. It is 2-way process – community belongs to everyone – it is about leadership and responsibility, not control. Innovation and fund needs to be a part of a community of learning – it is important to remember learners are people. Collaborative work is something special, it needs structure and purpose also flexibility and fluidity – effective leadership and facilitation.

Shirley asked, do communities of learning work? Are they necessary? What purpose might they serve? She observed that communities of learning involve recognition, and demonstrate acceptance, of differences in perspectives, beliefs, values etc. They involve development of interactive and collaborative skills required in discipline contexts.

Regarding the online learning context, Shirley referred to Ohler JR (2010) Digital Community, Digital Citizen, Corwin – Sage: “many educational systems still force learners to have two lives…”, ie, ‘digitally saturated’ in day-to-day life but ‘unplugged’ in the learning environment. Shirley said a virtual community requires specific efforts including peer-to-peer support – visible presence – efforts to communicate – scholarly dialogue – collaborations with peers – shared resources and practices – and build and deepen knowledge and expertise.

Shirley  used Twitter and SMS polling to ask the audience to contribute their ideas about encouraging communities of learning in an online environment – audience members could tweet or text their responses, which were displayed on the screen via  a website. I have heard of, have not seen, this tech before and I liked it a lot – a cool way to encourage interactions with audience.

Overall this was a good introduction to the community of learning concept –  type the phrase into Google Scholar and you will see the concept pervades teaching and learning in many disciplines.

Then it was time for parallel sessions – this presented some especially difficult choices because so many of the presentations I wanted to attend were running concurrently.

First up I attended a session presented by Judy Bourke (College of Law Sydney) and Maxine Evers (University of Technology Sydney)  on ‘Promoting Graduate Competence in Resilience and Well-Being: Strategies for the New Competency’. It is very good to see  inter-institutional collaborations of this kind. The presentation began with background to the topic, including the work of the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation, the resilience@law project, Wellness Network for Law, and the Council of Australian Law Deans (CALD) ‘Promoting Student Well-Being – Good Practice Guidelines for Law Schools‘. There was a discussion of elements of psycho-social factors relevant to employee responses to work, and work conditions, including organisational culture, clear leadership and expectations, good influence and involvement by workers, and balance in work, family, and personal life.  There followed some information about relatively new regulatory changes, including the Law Admissions Consultative Committee (LACC) Uniform Admission Rules Competency Standards rr. 4.6 (‘Resilience and Well-Being’) and 5.16 (‘Self Management). We finished the session by breaking out into groups –  each discussing one of the following:

  1. How to raise graduates’ awareness of importance of personal resilience in legal practice?
  2. What information and resources should we provide to help develop resilience, maintain well-being and identify mental health difficulties e.g. Best Practice Guidelines?
  3. 
How will information and resources be provided?
  4. Should the new competency be integrated with other competencies and subjects?
  5. How can graduates demonstrate they have achieved the new Self-Management element?

Judy and Maxine plan to collate the answers and return them to us in due course.

Time for lunch, with a short but intellectually provocative session facilitated by Ann Beckingham (Leo Cussen Institute), comparing disclosure requirements for admission in different Australian jurisdictions. Discussion was prefaced by information about The Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (the Application Act) enacted in Victoria and New South Wales, and  implications for what might eventually be a national procedure for admission to the legal profession. Ann outlined disclosure requirements in the Victorian jurisdiction, which involves several Practice Directions and Notices, including Practice Notice No. 2 of 2012 (Disclosure Requirements for Applicants). The Victorian requirements for disclosure are extensive (possibly more so than other jurisdictions) and one question is whether these would be adopted by other jurisdictions under a national admissions scheme. Part of the group discussion in this session focused on the administrative load the Victorian requirements generate for individuals and institutions. Other parts of the group discussion centred on potential impingement on natural justice, and parity and equity of outcomes of the scheme. It is a complex and challenging area to research, and I look forward to seeing research developed in this area.

After lunch, we were back into the parallel sessions – Clinical Associate Professor Terri Mottershead (Bond University) presented on ‘Innovating Legal Education through Law School and Law Firm Collaborations’. Terri spoke to common drivers for change for higher education and the legal industry; the coming of age for practical legal education – challenges and opportunities; beyond learning outcomes to competencies; and the new way forward – outcomes, partnerships and collaborations. I really enjoyed this presentation, which covered a lot of ground in detail, and I cannot do it justice here. In discussing common drivers for change, Terri referred to ’21st century practice’ with change driven by ‘more for less’, ‘liberalisation’, and ‘IT’ – emergent themes include ‘globalisation’, ‘technology and access to knowledge/justice’, ‘liberalisation/democratisation of knowledge’, ‘fees/funding/value’, and ‘integration/collaboration/partnership’.  Of particular interest to me was Terri’s discussion of the coming of age of practical legal education and the rise of pracademics. Readers familiar with my research might recall one of my interests is the integration of evidence-based practices and practice-based evidence toward a synthesis of know-what and know-how – the term pracademics seems to be neat fit with this, although on reading Price (2001), Posner (2009), and Susskind (2013), an underlying sense ‘us’ and ‘them’ between practitioners and academics remains. That said, it was heartening to hear someone of Terri’s standing recognising the relevance of pracademic work in professional legal education.

Then it was time for me to present – I will publish a separate post on my session.

Next, Fabian Horton (College of Law Victoria) presented on ‘Future communities – a paradigm shift in knowledge and teaching’. Fabian argued a dichotomy exists wherein ‘the internet, social media and our hyperconnected world can draw us closer together through virtual spaces. Yet at the same time we are becoming more disassociated through the forces of faux relationships, metrics and big data’.  In this context ‘we must rethink the skills lawyers need to properly serve our various communities’ –  Fabian identified  ’emerging legal disrupts’ including  ‘new law’, ‘legal informatics’ and  ‘commoditisation’ of  law – affecting the roles of future lawyers. He questioned what are ‘possible future skills’ that lawyers, and law teachers, will need. I interpreted Fabian as suggesting that traditional attitudes to law and legal education obstruct the impetus and undertaking to investigate possible ‘future’ skills – but this needs to change if law and legal education is to be part of a ‘future community’ in which technology plays a fundamental part.

Fabian’s presentation was thoughtful, challenged to some extent in speaking to relatively new concepts such legal informatics, which are yet to be widely understood legal education audiences.

The final presentation I attended for Day One was Ann-Maree David (College of Law Queensland) on ‘Supervision: the key to surviving and thriving in legal practice?‘  I am very interested in presentations relevant to supervision of pre-admission graduate lawyers and post-admission entry-level lawyers in practice – I believe it to be a neglected area of research in legal education, although I hasten to add there is much useful literature around supervision in the clinical legal education context. Ann-Maree supplied some excellent insights about the interplay (or lack thereof) between institutional PLT, workplace experience, and supervised practice. She pointed to research showing ‘successful students’ had one or more teachers (e.g. PLT practitioners) who were mentors, and had an internship (e.g. work experience) related to what they were learning in institutional coursework. For me, this highlights the widely-held misconception that 4-5 months of PLT coursework is intended to substitute for what were articled clerkships lasting years. As Anne-Maree pointed out, the work experience component of PLT, plus the period of post-admission supervised practice, should work together as part of the legal education continuum – there seems to be some recognition of this in professional guidelines concerning the statutory period of supervised practice. Ann-Maree also described how work experience and supervised practice could and should supply spaces for reflection and reflexivity to integrate learning, understandings, professional and social relations and connections, and how feedback/feedforward and peer mentoring activities play their part in this. An informative presentation that stimulated much discussion.

So that was my #APLEC2014 Day One – I will post about Day Two shortly.


Price, WT 2001, ‘A Pracademic Research Agenda for Public Infrastructure Models/Results Public Works Practitioners Need to Know’, Public Works Management & Policy, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 287-96.

Posner, PL 2009, ‘The Pracademic: An Agenda for Re‐Engaging Practitioners and Academics’, Public Budgeting & Finance, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 12-26.

Susskind, L 2013, ‘Confessions of a Pracademic: Searching for a Virtuous Cycle of Theory Building, Teaching, and Action Research’, Negotiation Journal, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 225-37.

Share

#issotl14 Quebec City – “Professional Turns: the Juridical Field, PLT practitioners, and SoTL

I’ve been kept busy with travel from Melbourne to Quebec City and attending the International Society for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning annual conference. Quebec City is lovely and people here are very friendly – if you haven’t visited I encourage you to do so.

Here’s a copy of my presentation for the conference. I am on tomorrow morning (Saturday 25 October) at 9.00 a.m., so wish me luck! I will post a bit more information about the presentation in the next few days.

Share

I’m going to #issotl14 |Quebec City | October 22-25

issotl 2014 acceptanceI am excited to learn that my abstract is accepted for the International Society of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Annual Conference in Quebec City, Canada, later this year.

For me, this is an excellent opportunity to constructively confront my research with leading international scholars in the scholarship of teaching and learning (“SoTL”) field. I personally believe that we can raise the status of SoTL in legal education, and particularly practical legal training, by undertaking interdisciplinary work, so that we can learn from, and test our ideas with, scholars in other fields.

I’m very fortunate to have already presented at the British Sociological Association annual conference and the Association of Law Teachers annual conference (both in Leeds, England) earlier this year. That means I’ve already used up my institutional higher degree by research international conference allowance. If you have any tips about alternative sources, such as bursaries or scholarships, please let me know!

 

Share

“Forks of Law” at #britsoc14 BSA annual conference

I will present at Roundtable Session 29 (Sports Hall 2) on Friday 25 April at the British Sociological Association annual conference at Leeds University. The images below are from my introductory handout.

BSA handout p. 1
Page 1
BSA handout p. 2
Page 2
BSA handout p. 3
Page 3
BSA handout p. 4
Page 4
Share

A Note about taking Notes (and using ICT)

Twitter is such a useful feed of information about research. I usually search on the #legaled hashtag each morning to see what has popped up from overseas during the night. This morning it was this tweet from @vivmb:

vivmbThe tweet linked to this blog post by Danya Perez-Hernandez at The Chronicle of Higher Education. The post reports how researchers (Daniel M. Oppenheimer and Pam Mueller) found those using laptops to take verbatim notes:

“took almost twice the amount of notes as those writing longhand, [however] they scored significantly lower in the conceptual part of the test”

The take home message was:

“Verbatim note-taking, as opposed to more selective strategies, signals less encoding of content”

I agree that selective note-taking strategies are good for recall and higher levels of cognitive processing, such as symbolisation and abstraction. Personally, I switch between two note-taking strategies: concept mapping, and the Cornell note-taking system. Sometimes I make a map from my Cornell notes, or vice versa. I like to switch between and combine graphics and text. I’ve also used Prezi to map notes, you can see a video of it here.

One lovely thing about the Cornell system is the summary section forces you synthesise information, and provides matter for writing up in your thesis or journal article etc. With concept-mapping, I often adapt maps and use these as figures in the writing up.

I have appalling hand-writing – a consequence of missing some formative parts of my primary education.  So I use devices, a lot.  I adopted and adapted mapping and Cornell methods for note-taking on my devices.

On my phone, tablet or Macbook, I use the IOS and OS X versions of “Notes”. My notes are synced across all devices (no more lost notes!) and they are searchable. Instead of ruling up the page as per the Cornell template, I simply divide the page into horizontal sections and use them as the “cues”, “note-taking” and “summary” areas. I can export these notes as PDF files, and drag them into my citation manager or Scrivener or Evernote (or just leave them where they are). Here’s one I prepared earlier (click on the image for full sized version):

notesexample

On my tablet, I use Mindjet Maps, Idea Sketch, Doodle Pad, Notability and Penultimate. The nice thing about Penultimate is that it syncs to Evernote. Each of these apps offer something a little different, and I switch between them, depending on how “free form” or structured I want the maps to be. All of them are capable of exporting the image in a format that can be used in writing up. On my Macbook I use Xmind – here’s a concept map note from a book I’ve read (click on the link for a full-sized version):

Symbolic Violence

Writing verbatim notes has limitations, but it is not the use of ICT that is the problem. Devices are just a tool, we need to exercise our intellectual abilities in using them, but they can expedite our learning and understanding strategies. Devices also have the potential to improve equity and parity of access to cognitive processes.

 

Share

So, half way through PhD candidature, I made this poster…

Summer School Poster Smaller SnipThis weekend I attended a summer school for higher degree by research students at Deakin University lovely Waterfront Campus.

There was a poster presentation session, in which I was not going to participate, but the organisers urged more people to sign up, so I obliged. Those who follow this blog will know that I do make videos, but I have never actually made an academic poster before.

Just to make it more interesting, the hard drive crashed on my laptop computer at the beginning of 2 week stay in Arnhem Land. So I needed to cobble this poster together with some online tools, and without some material on which I would usually draw.

This was an interesting project, and I did not want to get too deep into some of the later work I have been doing, because I am still working on it and thinking about it. Another consideration is that most of the audience at this presentation would not be familiar with PLT, so this needed to be concisely explained. Anyhow, if you click on the picture above, that will open a high resolution PDF copy of the poster. Let me know what you think?

 

Summer School Poster Smaller

Share